Overview

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Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Please note for tax purposes, including potential … Read more Property from the Rothschild Art FoundationFor the investor, philanthropist, and collector Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr., life was a never-ending opportunity for exploration and discovery. Across his ninety-one years, Stan cultivated a reputation as a fiercely intellectual and generous man with a passion for culture and community. Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. was the son of prominent Baltimore insurance executive Stanford Z. Rothschild, Sr. and his wife, the philanthropist, Marie Rothschild. Since the late nineteenth century, the family has championed civic leadership in their Maryland community. Marie Rothschild, in particular, was known as a stalwart supporter of causes such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sinai Hospital—where she was the first woman to serve on the board of directors—the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, and the American Red Cross—where Marie spearheaded the de-segregation of blood donation during the Second World War. “My grandma was a primary inspiration for our interest in making the world a better place,” noted David Rothschild, son of Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. “She made it clear that when you are privileged enough to not have to worry about providing for yourself or your family, there is a fundamental responsibility to ‘make the world a better place’.” Marie Rothschild would pass on her dedication to helping others to her son, who utilized his success in business and his love of fine art for the public good. A graduate of City College and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Stan served as an officer in the United States Navy before joining his family’s Sun Life Insurance Company, where he rose to President and CEO. After selling Sun Life in 1971, the collector founded The Rothschild Company to focus his energies on investing, a field that had always captured his imagination. At his investment management firm, the collector was known for his keen intelligence and commitment to innovation—qualities that earned him not only prodigious success, but also the respect of his colleagues. In recounting her father’s progressive mentality towards investing and collecting, his daughter, Ellen Rothschild Dame, recalls Stan “pouring over the book Art as Investment in the late 1960s, which acted as a catalyst for some of his earliest purchases, such as the Kandinsky and the Monets. As he developed his understanding of art as an asset, his passion for learning about the origin and historical significance of the work itself blossomed.” Enthralled with artists and the creative process, Stan assembled a striking collection of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by master figures of the art historical canon. He was especially drawn to artists whose work was both intellectually rigorous and historically provocative, namely El Greco, Claude Monet, Robert Delaunay, Camille Pissarro, and Russian artists of the twentieth century. During his lifetime, Stan amassed one of the largest, privately owned collections of Russian avant-garde art in the United States. Through personal scholarship and in conversation with art historians and curators, he honed his unique connoisseurial vision, and could speak at length about the fascinating philosophical and social histories behind each work. For Stan art was a rich, challenging source of inspiration—a means of interacting with the ideas and individuals that shaped the world. “He would have people come to the house to talk about the art,” David said of his father. “He loved to give tours and talk about the art. It was not only about the beauty—it was about the purpose, the political meaning, and the intent. It was beyond the aesthetic.” Stan approached philanthropy in the same way that he approached collecting: with energy, dedication, and a desire to foster and acquire inspiration. For him, giving was an opportunity to think more broadly about improving communities through bold thinking; his philanthropic reach extended across the arts, education, political advocacy, and Jewish causes. To this end, he sold major works of art to fund his eponymous charitable foundations and gifted pieces to institutions, including the Baltimore Museum of Art. In recent years, a meaningful portion of proceeds from The Rothschild Art Foundation’s sale of Russian artworks expanded its annual giving capability and has supported major gifts to charities such as Central Scholarship, enabling greater college and vocational access in Maryland and beyond. With the proceeds from some of his most beloved works, including major pictures by Redon, Monet, and Delaunay, the Rothschild Art Foundation is poised to significantly expand its impact throughout the United States and catalyze major change in areas of education, entrepreneurship, and civic activism. As David explained of his family’s philosophy toward giving, “one of the greatest joys in life is being generous and working to make the world better for others.” Today, his children David Rothschild and Ellen Rothschild Dame, together with the extended Rothschild family, continue to champion the art and causes that shaped the life of Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. Benevolent, innovative, and intellectual, Stan represents the best in American philanthropy and entrepreneurship. Like the artwork he collected and cherished deeply, the legacy of Stanford Z. Rothschild will leave a lasting impression on and enrich the lives of those who benefit from his philanthropic spirit for many years to come.
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Figure portant une tête ailée (La chute d'lcare)

Details
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Figure portant une tête ailée (La chute d'lcare)
signed 'ODILON REDON' (lower left)
pastel on paper laid down on board
19 x 17 5/8 in. (48.2 x 44.8 cm.)
Executed circa 1876
Provenance
Emile Bernard, Paris.
Henri Kapferer, Paris.
Jos Hessel, Paris (circa 1903).
Jean-Baptiste Denis, Rouen.
Galerie Huguette Bérès, Paris (acquired from the above).
Private collection, Switzerland.
Jean-Claude Bellier, Paris (acquired from the above).
Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr., Baltimore (acquired from the above, 22 February 1978).
Gift from the above to the present owner.
Literature
A. Wildenstein, Odilon Redon: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, mythes et légendes, Paris, 1994, vol. II, p. 213, no. 1161 (illustrated; illustrated again in color, p. 379).
H.K. Stratis, "A Technical Investigation of Odilon Redon's Pastels and Noirs" in The Book and Paper Group, vol. 14, 1995 (illustrated, fig. 6; titled Figure Holding a Winged Head).
G. Del Canton, "Le 'chevalier mystique' di Odilon Redon: slittamenti e incroci iconografici" in Artibus et Historiae, no. 55, 2007, pp. 190-191 (illustrated in color, p. 191, fig. 18; titled La Chute d'Icare or Ange portant une tête).
S. Heraeus, "The Dream as an Artistic Strategy" in Odilon Redon: As in a Dream, exh. cat., Frankfurt, Shirn Kunsthalle, 2007, p. 71.
Exhibited
Paris, Muse´e des Arts De´coratifs, Odilon Redon: exposition re´trospective de son oeuvre, 1926, no. 127 (titled Ange portant une tête; dated circa 1890).
The Art Institute of Chicago; Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum and London, Royal Academy of Arts, Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, July 1994-May 1995, pp. 97-98 and 437, no. 41 (illustrated, p. 97, fig. 53; titled Figure Holding a Winged Head and with incorrect medium).
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Sale Room Notice
Please note the following additional literature for this work:
H.K. Stratis, "A Technical Investigation of Odilon Redon's Pastels and Noirs" in The Book and Paper Group, vol. 14, 1995 (illustrated, fig. 6; titled Figure Holding a Winged Head).
G. Del Canton, "Le 'chevalier mystique' di Odilon Redon: slittamenti e incroci iconografici" in Artibus et Historiae, no. 55, 2007, pp. 190-191 (illustrated in color, p. 191, fig. 18; titled La Chute d'Icare or Ange portant une tête).
S. Heraeus, "The Dream as an Artistic Strategy" in Odilon Redon: As in a Dream, exh. cat., Frankfurt, Shirn Kunsthalle, 2007, p. 71.

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

The disembodied human head is a key image, either auspicious or ominous, in Odilon Redon’s iconography. Divested of any bodily or other natural constraints, floating in space, the wide-eyed, pensive visage in Figure portant une tête ailée is the artist’s paean to the strength of the inner, idealistic, visionary self, as he had striven to achieve in his own life. “I have made an art according to myself,” Redon declared in Confessions of an Artist. “I have done it with eyes open to the marvels of the visible world” (trans. M. Jacob and J.L. Wasserman, To Myself, New York, 1986, p. 23).
One may suspect that this proud, determined winged head gazes upon and ponders the world with uncommon intelligence. The artist has equipped this wondrous head with a winged helmet, signifying the flight of thought and the imagination, to bear it along on its journey. Hermes, the messenger of the gods in antiquity, also the guardian deity of wayfarers, wore a winged headdress and sandals, which he lent to the hero Perseus, to aid him in beheading the snake-haired Gorgon Medusa.
As the curators of the 1994 exhibition Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams have noted, the present drawing “is among the most ambitious that Redon had made to date [1876]. Here, apparently for the first time, Redon explored the expressive potential of pastel, grafting a softly radiant skin of the medium onto its charcoal base” (exh. cat., op. cit., 1994, p. 97). It was not until the mid-1890s that Redon began to work extensively in pastel. Until then, the artist patiently cultivated a small but dedicated clientele who delighted in collecting his magical, unprecedented, and idiosyncratic “noirs”—drawings rendered in richly layered charcoal, black chalk, and conté crayon, as well as lithographs in black and white.
"There is a certain style of drawing that the imagination has liberated from the embarrassing concern for real details in order that it might freely serve only as the representation of conceived things,” Redon wrote in À soi-même. “All my originality, then, consists in giving human life to unlikely creatures according to the laws of probability, while, as much as possible, putting the logic of the visible at the service of the invisible” (op. cit., 1986, p. 23).
Redon’s visions in the noirs are typically grotesque, even macabre and nightmarish. The heads, in their wisdom of the world, are almost always melancholy. The great halo of a golden sun that surrounds this rapt, winged thinker, however, generously graces this vernal landscape with beatific clarity. This seer, moreover, is not alone; he has attracted an admiring, protective, and youthful acolyte. “I feel myself proud and strong in my conscious vision,” Redon wrote on 2 June 1877. “External things, which are brightening unceasingly around my anxious person, today strengthen all my will. I feel myself a man, at last a man in his plenitude; in me life amplifies to excess and to its fullest. Sensitive to everything, everything speaks, and the word has never been revealed this clearly, so loudly, to my astonished eyes” (ibid., pp. 47-48).

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